The final day of the Panchen Lama advocacy in Brussels focused on meeting lawmakers and officials of the Belgian Government. Ms Sabine Verhest, a journalist from La Libre, a major daily newspaper, and also the author of “Tibet – Stories from the Roof of the World.” interviewed Venerable Zeekyab Rinpoche, the abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery on religious repression in Tibet and on the Panchen Lama’s enforced disappearance issue. Venerable Zeekyab Rinpoche stressed the deteriorating state of religious freedom and other fundamental rights in Tibet while remarking that Tibetans can’t even celebrate or perform prayers on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday in Tibet, and explaining why Tibet is ranked as the least-free place in the world.
The delegation then had meetings with lawmakers in the Belgian Government. Venerable Zeekyab Rinpoche, Representative Rigzin Choedon and DIIR staff Dukthen Kyi met Ms. Helena Bergé, Human Rights Officer and Ms. Charline Binard, Desk Officer China, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Belgium. The two were briefed on the continued enforced disappearance of the Panchen Lama and presented with the five appeals for the Belgium government, more specifically, and urged the Ministry to take more concrete and specific actions to enable the Panchen Lama’s release and support for the resolution of the Sino-Tibet conflict through the Middle Way Approach.
During the meeting with MP Els Van Hoof, vice-chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Belgium Federal Parliament, in addition to a briefing on the Panchen Lama issue, the delegation discussed the current pressing human rights issues in Tibet. Representative Rigzin Genkhang and Ms Dukthen Kyi briefed MP Hoof on the Chinese government’s policies targeting and threatening the use and the preservation of Tibetan language in Tibet, especially through the colonial schools where Tibetan language is almost completely replaced by Chinese Mandarin. MP Hoof appreciated receiving concrete and specific recommendations and inquired about examples of resolutions that have been already been passed by other countries and hearings held in parliaments. She also shared a keen interest in SEE learning which she said could be helpful to the youth in Belgium to have a calm mind and good mental health.
The delegation also met EU officials. They are scheduled to travel next to London on Sunday morning where they’ll continue the advocacy work.